For Otto Porter Jr., being a top NBA draft pick would justify the summers when he woke up early to run or ride his bike, built strength by carrying wood and doing other household chores, played pickup basketball with his cousins on a rickety court at his late grandmother’s home and borrowed the keys from his father to spend countless hours at the high school gym. “I think hard work pays off and you’re finally getting benefit from working all these nights and hours that you put into your game,” said Porter, who declared for the draft last month after a stellar sophomore season at Georgetown. “It’s rewarding.” Overlooked by college recruiters because of his unusual, under-the-radar path, Porter is accustomed to drawing delayed reactions. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he isn’t rattled by the common refrain from NBA scouts and executives that the 2013 draft class is one of the weakest in recent memory. “It doesn’t bother me at all,” Porter said Thursday at the NBA draft combine. “People can say what their opinions are, at the end of the day, it’s how you want to go. Knowing that there is nobody that’s a superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, the window is open for anybody. It’s just unlimited what you can do.” Coming from Porter — a player who spent his summers working out at home in tiny Sikeston, Mo., rather than participate in the AAU circuit and didn’t consider entering the NBA draft until his remarkable sophomore campaign unfolded on the Hilltop — the response hardly comes off as hollow or defiant. That’s simply how it goes for the 6-foot-8 forward who pushes to set his own standards. “I just continue to be myself, continue to play my game. Eventually people are going to start noticing how I play,” said Porter, who averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season as he became Georgetown’s first consensus first-team all-American since Allen Iverson. Porter was also the unanimous choice as Big East player of the year and led the Hoyas to a 27-5 record and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said he would draft Porter first overall and dubbed him the best all-around player ever to come through the Big East — which Porter called “the ultimate compliment.” Porter is projected to be among the top five players selected in the June 27 draft, which would mean that the Washington Wizards would likely have to win one of the top three choices in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery to have a chance to select him. The Wizards have the eighth-best odds at winning the top overall choice but could slide as far back as 11th. They still plan to meet with Porter, who is friends with Bradley Beal, a first-team member of the NBA’s all-rookie team for the Wizards this past season and a fellow Missouri native. Beal tried unsuccessfully to recruit Porter to his AAU team in high school but has kept tabs of his career and called him one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
For Otto Porter Jr., unlikely path likely will lead to high NBA draft pick
Washington Post | May 18